Sewing thread from A to Z

Sewing thread from A to Z

Sewing threads are not to be taken with a grain of salt! Most of the time, when choosing a sewing thread, the two main criteria of choice are the color and the price! But there are other factors to take into account, so as not to be disappointed later, and choose the ideal thread for the sewing you have to do!

A small article to unravel the complex subject of sewing threads!

That's it, you have a sewing project! You have everything you need to get started: the sewing machine, the fabric, any buttons, or the zipper! Everything is ready except… the sewing thread!

So you decide to go get some in your favorite haberdashery store, and there: amazement! For long minutes you gaze at an entire wall of spools of thread! In all colors, all sizes, at different prices!

How do you choose the "right" yarn, which will go well with your fabric from an aesthetic point of view, but also technically ?!

The two-ball threads

You might be tempted when you shop at the local supermarket, buy cheap thread. We think we will save a lot of money because paying € 1 for 5 spools of the thread is a bargain. But it is not! Unfortunately, these spools are of such poor quality that you will tear your hair out with your seams. They will break for no reason, will lint in the machine, stitches will jump ... In short, a real waste of time, and money at the same time!

Ditto on the internet, you will undoubtedly find lots of 20 reels at bargain prices. But the case is not, unfortunately ...

My advice is as follows, treat yourself to a good thread, which you will pay € 3 per 100 meters but which will not be a problem afterward. I made the mistake of being a little tight at the start, to earn a few euros for low-end yarn. I wasted a tremendous amount of time re-stitching seams that wouldn't hold in the wash, or that broke when sewing. A hell!

Do not take the risk of disgusting yourself with sewing for so little, and put the price in your sewing threads!

The different types of thread for sewing

If this blog article exists, it is because there are different types of threads available on the market… And it is advisable to choose at best the thread adapted to the fabrics that one has to sew, but also to the use of the creation that we are making.

In general, logic requires that we use a thread of the same material as the fabric that is going to be sewn. Cotton fabric, cotton yarn; Synthetics, polyester yarn; silk fabric, silk thread ... In short, a child's play! But how does it work when you mix the fabrics, or when you are not sure what the composition of the coupons is?

Sewing threads are divided into several groups:

Cotton thread:

100% cotton, soft, and firm. Ideal for all-cotton designs, because it has the same properties as the fabric it sews! To be preferred in this case. On the other hand, never cotton thread to sew synthetic! The yarn would shrink a bit in the wash while the fabric would remain stable, and hello ripples!

All-purpose polyester yarn:

It is the most convenient to use because it is the most versatile. It sews most fabrics without breaking or linting. This is the thread that you will find in the majority of cases. It's on sale everywhere, in all colors, sizes, and lengths!

The super-strong (or extra strong) yarn:

As the name suggests, the super-strong yarn is… super tough! And very practical for sewing buttonholes, topstitching, or parts of clothing that will have to undergo strong constraints, such as the crotch of pants. This thread is found in a fairly short coil, usually 30 meters.

The jean's thread:

Ideal for sewing denim, especially decorative. For topstitching that looks pro, and overcasting on denim. Jean yarn can only be found in a few colors in orange or blue tones.

And when sewing jeans, don't forget to equip your machine with a needle made for it!

The silk thread:

A yarn that is light, resistant, and very fine. It is a bit more elastic than polyester yarn, which makes it ideal for delicate fabrics.

Foam yarn:

Rather, it is a thread for use with a serger. He has the advantage of being soft and puffy (in the 'puffy' sense, not the type to make bad jokes!). It is ideal for children's clothing because the seams obtained do not scratch. Ditto for lingerie or sportswear. As far as I'm concerned, I put two spools of foam thread in the loopers of my serger when I sew for my daughter, and two spools of polyester thread for the needles.

The elastic thread:

Attention, we will learn a new word: smocking! It has nothing to do with smoking, nor with smocking ... These are the decorative embroidered gathers that are often found on little girls' dresses. To make this kind of gathering, you need elastic thread, which is wound in the bobbin. The technique is not easy, but with a little practice, it can be done! We find it there.

The building thread:

It is 100% cotton, quite fragile, and made only to build its works! If you don't know what that means, take a look at the article "46 essential words to start sewing"! Usually, this thread is white or black, for coarse stitching by hand. You will find it here at the best price.

The metallic thread:

To make topstitching or embroidery. This adds a touch of shine and sparkle to the seam. It is not a pure metal thread, but a polyester yarn with added metallic fibers. If you want to buy some, know that there are some for hand or machine sewing. So be careful with how you use it.

Moreover, to use this type of thread in a sewing machine, the machine needle should be replaced by a special metal thread needle.

Machine embroidery thread

It is a thread made for embroidery machines. It is very bright and shiny. But only for the embroidery machine.

Which thread size to choose?

Whatever anyone tells you, size matters! For sewing threads, there are different thicknesses of thread numbered from 30 to 120. The larger the number… the THIN the thread! This is the trap !! I think manufacturers are bored in their factories, and suddenly invent parts like this to keep the mind busy! In short!

So a silk thread will have a size of 100, a polyester thread a size 80 while a cotton thread a size 50.

For decorative topstitching, it would be better to use a thread size between 50 and 30. The same for a beefy fabric such as cotton twill or denim.

As far as I'm concerned, I find this size information quite difficult to identify when purchasing your spools. This number is not always written on the reels themselves but the packaging or displays. At worst, ask a salesperson in the store. The info is a little more visible on the internet, but not yet on all sites ...

Spool of thread?

Overlock cones You may have noticed the impressive choice of colors for the spools of thread. But have you seen the variety of lengths available for sale? 20 meters, 30 meters, 50, 100, 125, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 2500, 5000 or 10000 meters!

While most threads are sold by 100 meters, it happens on special materials that the spools are shorter (for elastic or extra strong thread for example). And sometimes much longer! The reel is thus transformed into MiniKing (1000 meters) or cone (the lengths beyond).

Assume that unless you are going into industrial production, you are not going to need 2,500 meters of thread to sew a bib on the sewing machine! At best 5 meters will suffice!

Sewing thread brands

Many brands make sewing thread. Some are doing well, offering excellent quality products:

Gütermann: (my favorite. Never disappointed with their sons so far)

Mettler: (the brand I fall back on when I can't find my happiness with Gütermann)

Madeira: specialist manufacturer of embroidery thread, but also of special threads such as foam, invisible, or even metallic thread.

So much for the sewing threads! To conclude, I would advise you simply to make tests before starting the actual sewing: a scrap of fabric and a few stitches on it is enough to realize if the chosen thread corresponds to the fabric. Do not overlook this aspect of sewing, it is as important as a good fabric or a good machine!


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